Calcium is a mineral that is necessary for life. It builds strong bones, helps blood clotting and is vital for transmitting messages through the nerves and in the release of certain hormones.
If we don’t get enough of this mineral through our diet then our body will leach it from our bones, leaving them weak and vulnerable.
On this high calcium foods list you will find the top 11 plant food sources of this essential mineral to keep you strong and healthy on your plant based diet.
PLANT BASED EATING
If you’re striving towards a more plant based way of living, then you may be wondering just how you’re going to meet your calcium needs.
Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we can only obtain good amounts of this mineral from dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt, but this is simply not true. In fact, it’s far from the truth. You probably won’t believe there are many non-dairy foods with high calcium, but there are!
Not only are these foods high in calcium, but they are also healthier in other respects in terms of protein, fibre, antioxidants, phytochemicals, vitamins and minerals. This can make the plant based diet, when done properly through correct combining of macronutrients, a very healthy way of life indeed.
What Plants Are High In Calcium?
When you start eating plant based, or even if you have decided to cut out dairy for whatever reason (maybe you are dairy intolerant), then you will need to be mindful of getting enough calcium into your diet.
It is always best to get this from a food source as it is more natural and absorbable. Supplements (especially calcium) won’t be absorbed so readily AND could potentially throw your other minerals out of whack.
Calcium and Strong Bones
Calcium is SO important to health because when you don’t get enough your bones get weaker. This can leave you more susceptible, not only to breakages, but the dreaded osteoporosis that affects 1 in 2 females and 1 in 4 males at some point in their lives.
These odds do often have other factors involved, such as genetics, ethnicity, bone structure, body weight, certain diseases and some medications. But, make no bones about it, getting enough calcium is a major player in preventing these problems.
You will need to be eating lots of calcium rich foods for bones, like the ones on this list to help neutralise these potential issues.
Stay within a healthy BMI for strong bones!
The risks of these diseases can be negated by making sure that you eat a healthy diet that meets all your calcium needs. You should also stay within a healthy weight range, but also be sure to keep your bones strong through weight bearing exercise.
It’s important that you do both of these things to see and feel the real benefits. One without the other just may not be enough.
How Much Calcium Do I Need?
CHILDREN – 1300MG PER DAY
WOMEN UNDER 50 – 1000MG PER DAY
WOMEN OVER 50 – 1,200MG PER DAY
MEN UNDER 70 – 1000MG PER DAY
MEN OVER 70 – 1,200 MG PER DAY
Is Plant Based Calcium Better For You?
There is lots of research now that shows plant based calcium to be superior to animal based calcium. This is because animal products (such as dairy) actually leach calcium from your bones, therefore leaving you less. It’s not for no reason that bone conditions such as osteoporosis and brittle bone are more prevalent in Western cultures than in cultures that eat more soy and plant based products.
The great thing about plant based sources of calcium is also the fact that that many contain other bone nutrients. For instance, leafy green vegetables contain vitamin K, which is also vital to bone health.
High Calcium Foods List
Eating at least a couple of portions of the foods on this list will help to cover your calcium needs.
Try to keep your foods as varied as possible to be sure you are reaping all the other fantastic benefits of them.
The foods on this list are ALL highly nutritious and should become the cornerstone of any healthy plant based diet.
Tofu can be one of the best sources of calcium on a plant based diet, due to the fact that most supermarket tofu is already fortified with it. You will need to check different brands to find which ones contain the highest amounts, but some can offer up to 33% of your daily intake in just one cup.
Tofu is also extremely high in plant protein and contains all 8 amino acids.
It also contains iron, copper, zinc, B1, and the minerals manganese, magnesium, phosphorus and selenium.
Soy is also well known for being GMO, so always buy organic where possible.
2. BLACK EYED PEAS
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (canned) 370MG 38% of your daily intake.
Beans all contain calcium, but the highest by far are black eyed peas. Fortunately, they can easily be added to stews, soups and salads to jazz them up and make them more delicious.
These healthy beans also contain good amounts of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, and vitamins A, D and C.
You can buy them canned for ease of use, but you may prefer the taste and texture of home soaked and cooked pulses if you have the time to do so.
3. KALE AND SWISS CHARD
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup (cooked) 197MG 19.7% of your daily intake.
Kale and Swiss chard have the highest calcium content of all the vegetables. They also contain fibre, phytonutrients, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium and vitamins C, E and A.
These greens, along with these other known superfoods, have a superior nutritional profile and should be eaten only lightly cooked or steamed to retain their nutrients.
Saute fast with some coconut oil (fat helps the absorption of many of kale’s nutrients), fresh garlic, chili and lemon juice
. TIP:- Be sure to add your fresh lemon juice only at the very end of the cooking process. It tends to go bitter if cooked in from the beginning.
Here is the full recipe on how to make any greens tasty.
4. SESAME SEEDS
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 tablespoon 140MG 14% of your daily intake.
Sesame seeds hold the highest calcium content of all the seeds (but the others are also pretty good). In fact, ONE TBSP contains the same amount of calcium as half a cup of milk!
You can easily add these nutritious little seeds into your diet in the form of tahini – a paste that can be added to many dishes (see other tahini recipes). Or, use the seeds as a topping sprinkle for cereal, yogurt or stir-fries.
Sesame seeds are best eaten ground up into a powder or paste. Otherwise you’ll need to chew really well as your stomach won’t be able to break them down very easily, which is why we suggest using tahini instead.
5. BUTTERNUT SQUASH
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup 84MG 8.4% of your daily intake.
Not only is butternut squash high in calcium, but it also contains carotenoids. Carotenoids are great for the prevention of heart disease, arthritis and asthma.
Butternut squash is also a good source of nerve soothing vitamin B6, potassium, folate, panothenic acid, and manganese. All of which make it a vegetable you should be consuming regularly on your plant based diet.
Make this delicious pasta dish out of roasted butternut squash.
CALCIUM CONTENT- 23 nuts (large handful) 76MG – 7.6% of your daily intake.
Almonds are delicious and full of protein and nutrients, calcium being one of them.
They’re also a low carbohydrate and transportable snack that can be popped into your handbag and taken anywhere. Perfect for those times when you’re tempted to snack on unhealthy, fast foods.
Almonds are are very high in fibre, which is good for digestive health. They also contain over 20 different antioxidant flavenoids – all of which are good for anti aging.
Almonds contain vitamin E, magnesium, riboflavin and potassium, making them a powerful little nut that deserve a regular place in your diet.
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large orange 75MG – 7% of your daily intake.
Oranges contain a really significant amount of calcium, are delicious, and like almonds are easily transportable.
The humble orange also contains what it is are most famous for – vitamin C. Along with other nutrients such as potassium, B-vitamins, vitamin A and magnesium.
Oranges are also great for re-hydrating and refueling your blood sugar after a hard workout. This makes them a perfect post-workout food that you can just throw in your gym bag, along with this other perfect training food.
8. SWEET POTATO
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 large potato 68MG – 7% of your daily intake.
Sweet potato wedges baked in the oven with healthful coconut oil and spices like garlic, paprika and chili flakes are just perfect.
Sweet potatoes are just so versatile and can be incorporated into any meal. They’re also way healthier and lower GI than your average, white spud.
Low GI foods like the sweet potato help to keep blood sugar stable and weight under control. Both of which bring with them many other health benefits. Try this fat burning spice mix to also help with both of these things too.
As with all orange coloured fruits and vegetables, sweet potato is high in beta-carotene which is converted into vitamin A in the body.
Sweet potatoes are another budget friendly superfood because of their superior nutrient content and high in vitamin C, B6 and magnesium.
CALCIUM CONTENT – 1 cup 62MG – 6% of your daily intake.
Another one of Mother Nature’s super foods, broccoli contains lots of health benefits. It is high in fibre and can be eaten raw in salads, juiced, steamed or flash stir-fried.
The way you cook your broccoli is very important: If you boil or over cook it you can lose up to 90% of its awesome nutritional powers.
Broccoli is another veggie that tastes great stir fried with chilli, garlic, lemon and a dash of tamari or soy sauce (tamari is healthier than soy sauce as it’s gluten and sugar free).
Broccoli is one of the highest protein vegetables that also contains vitamin C, B6, K and vitamin A.
TIP:- For nutrition’s sake, always eat the raw stalk of your broccoli. After you have prepared the florets for cooking, slice down and take the outer edges off the stalk off (I give those to my dog who loves them) and eat the inner tube you have left. It tastes very mild and is crisp, juicy and full of nutrition.
CALCIUM CONTENT – per 3 figs – 52MG – 5% of your daily intake.
Figs, both raw and dried, contain magnesium, manganese, copper, potassium, B6 and vitamin K, so they really are a fantastic addition to any healthy diet plan. They are delicious fresh when in season, but equally as good dried when they go all sweet and chewy.
Add them chopped to salads. Or, bake your fresh figs with a little maple syrup for the ultimate sweet treat.
Also great with coconut yogurt and flaked roasted almonds for a healthy breakfast or dessert.
11. GREEN SUPEFOOD POWDER
There are many different types of green superfood powders, such as wheat grass, barley grass, spirulina, Chlorella, moringa, and most famously, Dr, Schulze’s Superfood Powder to name just a few.
The thing they all have in common is that along with a super high antioxidant and phytonutrient content, they all contain high levels of calcium as most green leafy foods do. But, this is way more concentrated as it is freeze or tumble dried at its peak of nutrition.
Energy, vitality and GLOWING skin!
A shot of green superfood powder is a good step to take on the plant based diet to be doubly sure you’re meeting all your nutrient needs, calcium included.
These amazing, specially formulated powders also give you energy, vitality, clarity, immune support, better sleep, and anti aging benefits on the inside and out.
Just be sure to use only high quality superfood powders or you will not be guaranteed the best results.
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Check out this YouTube video for a delicious way to get your calcium in a homemade chocolate treat that looks oh so delicious!
21 thoughts on “High Calcium Foods List – Top 11 Plant Based Sources”
Hello there! My mom just went to the doctor and I was with her. The doctor said that she should take high calcium food to help her with with her bones because she’s getting older now. My mom doesn’t drink milk anymore and now I want to help her to provide the needed calcium she needs to intake. Luckily, I found and read your article which is very informative and helpful. MY mom will love this information of foods that are high in calcium. I will surely share this to her. Thank you for sharing this information.
Hi John, well that’s just great that you came across this article then! Yes, calcium is especially important as people get older to help stop osteoporosis and fractures etc. And getting calcium from food sources rather than tablets is way more effective. If she does decide to go for supplements then you have to be really careful what you buy as some of it isn’t absorbable and can even actually be bad for you. It’s best to find out from a trained medical herbalist what would be the best to take.
I know this because I work with a herbalist and I often hear her saying to people the certain calcium supplements they are taking are bad (usually these are the ones prescribed by doctors or cheaper brands).
Also, another crucial ting for strong bones is weight bearing/resistance exercise such as gym work, weights, power walking and swimming among others. Hope this helps and good luck to your mum.
Thank you for this useful food list! I knew there were very healthy but what I didn’t know is that they contain a high amount of calcium. That’s exactly what I needed!
I’ve heard somewhere that tofu is healthy, but when eating it in large quantity, it can become dangerous. Have you already heard about this?
I am 40 plus now, and you know that the more we get older, the more we need calcium:). So my question is, will my body receive all the calcium required by eating these foods or should I take some supplements too?
Thank you very much for this excellent post!
Hi Danielle, yes tofu is healthy, and full of calcium if you buy the fortified versions which most of them are, but you need to check labels to be sure. And Yes, soya can be bad if you have hormonal problems as it’s estrogenic and so can mimic estrogen in the body causing distruptions. I am in your age group and notice if I have to much soy it messes with my periods…I can however have a little, say a couple of portions a week and it doesn’t affect me.
As for calcium supplements, I much prefer to try and get my calcium from food sources where possible because it is much more readily absorbed by the body. Also, I have read that calcium supplements aren’t actually that good for you long term.
Hello and thanks for sharing your post that is well detailed and has a ton of great information. Calcium is so important because this is one of the building blocks that the body needs in order to function well.
it is good to know that we can get this vitamin in natural ways from the foods that we eat.
Hi Norman, yes getting enough calcium is crucial, and something I am very aware of now I have turned to a plant based lifestyle. I want my bones to live into old age that’s for sure!
Great post. I have been on a plant based diet for a couple of years now (Still trying to wean myself off fish though! haha) and eat most of the above. I love my almonds, kale, pumpkin, sweet potatoes. I often get asked how do I get calcium if I don’t eat dairy.
I am going to bookmark your site and share this post with as many people as I can. It answers the calcium debate beautifully! Thanks for a brilliant post.
Hi Kevin, thank you so much, I really appreciate you saying those things and you have made my day. Yes, I too have problems with people asking me where I get my calcium if I don’t eat dairy, and it always amuses me as I’m always so much healthier than them as I never get sick! Ha ha. Next time somebody asks you that you should point out all the many countries and cultures who don’t eat dairy at all and are in fact all lactose intolerant, but are healthier and have way less disease than our society. There’s obviously a link there.
It’s great you eat so well, I don’t think you should beat yourself up about the fish as it does offer health benefits. In fact, I watched a television programme not long ago about one of the longest living cultures in the world from some island near Japan and they just lived on fish, fruit, and vegetables. Their average age was 120 years or something like that.
It just shows how much of out lifespan the average Western diet is taking away from us. Still…we are starting to learn.
Great article, when we talk about high calcium, only dairy products came into our minds but that is not true and you have mentioned it so so nicely. Even citrus juices can help us building good calcium stores for stronger bones. Great article, very informative and useful.
Yes, you’re right about citrus juices being high in calcium. Even I was shocked about how much calcium is in an Orange! I am now going to make a special effort to eat one every day to boost my supply. I do prefer to eat the whole fruit rather than juices as you could easily way 10 oranges in one glass of juice and that is just an unnatural among of fructose to be putting in your body in one hit.
They actually say that fruit juices are just as bad as soft drinks when it comes to the blood sugar spike they give you. It doesn’t matter if they are healthier in other ways they still give you a huge insulin response which in the long term can promote obesity, diabetes and all the other nasty things that come along with that. So my advice, stick to the whole fruit just like mother nature intended and you can’t go wrong.
Hold on, you telling me sweet potatoes contain more calcium than milk? I did not even know any of the foods you listed contained any calcium lol. I thought calcium was just contained in things like milk and cheese etc.
Well, I eat those potatoes, kale and beans – but I will be hunting for a few more of those foods to incorporate into interesting and healthy meals. Thank you very much as I am trying to find an affordable and healthy shopping list for the week and seen your post.
I will be back for more Stephanie and thanks again.
Hi Philip, yes so many people think they can only get calcium from dairy products but it’s just not true. In fact there are whole countries and cultures that don’t consume dairy and they are perfectly healthy if not healthier than our culture. Go figure hey lol.
To be honest, I didn’t realise this about calcium myself until I started on a plant based diet and started studying it in depth. As for the sweet potatoes, I’m not sure if they are as high as milk, I would have to go back and check as I did say ‘some of these’ are higher than milk. But the first half of the list definitely are. And I’m sure the sweet potatoes would be close anyway.
The thing is, I have read from quite a few different sources now that as dairy products are mostly acid forming, they actually leach more calcium out of our bones to process the calcium in the dairy but I don’t know how true this is. But it does actually makes sense when you think about how our high animal/dairy based culture is one of the unhealthiest in the world. And we get higher incidence of osteoporosis etc. Food for thought Hey, which is why I get mine from the plants now.
I certainly would not have thought of Black Eyed Peas having the most calcium of any plant based food! And I’ve been teaching health and nutrition classes for over 25 years! That’s just so fantastic to know. I love this list, and that you mentioned the percentage of daily amount of calcium that each provide. Thank you so much for putting this together for us. It is truly a wonderful resource to have!
Hi Shelley, that’s great you teach nutrition, you are a woman after my own heart! I know, there are so many great calcium foods out there that are completely animal free. I have researched this field a lot more thoroughly now I have turned to the plant based way of eating because I wanted to make sure that I got all the right nutrition. I have seen a few people go vegan and make themselves sick because they had no idea what they were doing and did no research. I definitely didn’t want to make that mistake.
Luckily, I have just felt fantastic the whole year that I’ve been doing this, and I haven’t been sick once, so I take this as evidence that all is well.
Thanks for reading and I’m glad you learnt something new.
Are there some more nutrition foods like this to help you with this calcium problem? What about fruits and meat and cerals? And one suggestion – remove this CAPTCHA thing!
Hi Marko, yes loads of other foods contain calcium but I was just doing the top 9 plant sources. Many of the other nuts and seeds not mentioned all have calcium and also many other vegetables, especially the green leafy kind. As far as I’m aware meat doesn’t as all the calcium in an animal would have been stored in its bones.
As for this CAPTCHA thing I have no idea what you mean. I’m pretty new to this but I will definitely find out! Thanks.
Mmmm sesame and sweet potatoes, two of my absolute favorite things.
My grandmother had to take a calcium supplement, it was liquid and disgusting, a thick white liquid she had to take by the spoonful. I wonder if that’s still a thing…and I wonder if her needs could have been met simply with more kale and tofu!
Yes, I think they gave that liquid out to quite a few people, my mum was given these big white horse pill tablets to take. Thing is, calcium supplements don’t absorb too well so could of been a waste of time. Not that I’m telling anybody they should stop taking them, just be sure to get what you need from foods sources as at least you know it’s absorbed.
Yes, not many people know that there are so many great plant sources of calcium, they mostly just presume it comes from animal products. I much prefer the plant sources now I am into plant based eating and it is also way more important to eat these foods if you don’t eat dairy products. Either way, most of the foods on that list are also super healthy and have lots of other great nutrients and benefits so you get the best of both worlds.
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